Monday, February 22, 2016

Is Jesus Named in the Old Testament? Part 1

Excellent question, and one I went searching for recently. The Messiah's name is really a title: it means the "Anointed One." So, the word Messiah is plentiful in the Old Testament. This is to be expected. The Messiah is the Deliverer and the King to come, Who will bring justice and peace to the nations.

If the Old Testament is God's redemptive plan, and the Messiah is the culmination of all of God's movement and provision in history, then you would expect the Messiah to be named. All of the kings of Israel are named; deliverers such as Moses and Gideon are named; the prophets are named. And yet the Suffering Servant of Isaiah is not named; He walks through the pages of the Old Testament as a shadow, ever-present, yet not named.

I see Jesus as the center of everything God does; so why can't I find Him specifically referenced in the Old Testament? Then I found this wonderful posting:

I could never answer it satisfactorily to their way of thinking, and I admit I often wondered why His name was not actually written in the Old Bible. Oh, yes, I could show them His divine titles in Isaiah 7:14, 9:6 and Jeremiah 23:5,6, and even the word MESSIAH in several places; but the Hebrew name that would be equal to Jesus, that I could not show. Then one day the Holy Spirit opened my eyes, and I just shouted. There was the very NAME, Jesus, found in the Old Testament about 100 times all the way from GENESIS to HABAKKUK! Yes, the very word - the very NAME - that the angel Gabriel used in Luke 1:31 when he told Mary about the Son she was to have. "Where do we find that NAME?" you ask. Here it is, friend: Every time the Old Testament uses the word SALVATION (especially with the Hebrew suffix meaning "my," thy," or "his"), with very few exceptions (when the word is impersonal), it is the very same word, YESHUA (Jesus), used in Matthew 1:21. Let us remember that the angel who spoke to Mary and the angel who spoke to Joseph in his dream did not speak in English, Latin, or Greek, but in Hebrew; and neither were Mary or Joseph slow to grasp the meaning and significance of the NAME of this divine Son and its relation to His character and His work of salvation. For in the Old Testament all great characters were given names with a specific and significant meaning.  ("Jesus in the Tanakh" by Arthur E. Glass at

I was excited! Could it be that His very name echoes throughout the Old Testament whenever the word "salvation" was spoken or written?

I then went to Strong's Concordance online, and I was blown away. I would like to share with you what I found. The number referenced in Strong's is H3444.

Starting in Genesis 49:18: "I have waited for thy yĕshuw`ah O LORD." The context here is Jacob prophesying over his each of his sons, as he faces his own death. He tells of their strengths, their weaknesses and how they will fare in the days to come. In the middle of his words, Jacob utters this in verse 18. The NIV Study Bible says he stops and asks God for help.

But it is deeper than that.

According to Vine's Complete Expository Dictionary, this is the first use of this word in the Bible.  Contained within this word "salvation" is the idea of being saved "through divinely appointed means and from inequity" (215).

Already, salvation is being tied into God Himself and His power.  It is not just a rescue from hardship or challenges, but it is a profound work where sin and its legacy, death, are vanquished.  Salvation is a name, and has a Name:  the future Messiah, Jesus Christ.

Consider:  Here is a man who is seeing what the future hold for his sons, and the tribes that they will lead. These men, with all of their faults and strengths, will be the founding fathers of the nation of Israel. They will need all of God's mercy, wisdom and guidance to act in accordance with what has been given to them and to lay the foundation for the future. Who better to be the Foundation than the Son of another Father? Who better to be Wisdom, Mercy and the very Word of God to build a kingdom without end? The father of  twelve sons is prophesying that the Father of the One Son will ultimately provide the only lasting hope of the nation; not only of the Jewish nation, but the nations of the Gentiles. In fact, verse 24 proclaims this truth: Jacob is speaking of Joseph and yet it echoes of Jesus: "But his bow remained steady, his strong arms stayed limber, because of the hand of the Mighty One of Jacob, because of the Shepherd, the Rock of Israel..."

Let's go for a moment to Psalm 118:21-22: "I will praise thee: for thou hast heard me, and art become my yĕshuw`ah. The stone which the builders refused is become the head stone of the corner. This is the Lord's doing; it is marvelous in our eyes."

Do you notice how yeshuw'ah is mentioned before the rejected cornerstone? Jesus' name is mentioned in the same Psalm where the Rock is selected by God to build His foundation for the nation of Israel and yet is rejected.

Jesus identifies with this Rock, this Cornerstone, in Matthew 21:42-44: "Jesus saith unto them, Did ye never read in the scriptures, The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner: this is the Lord's doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes? Therefore say I unto you, The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof. And whosoever shall fall on this stone shall be broken: but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder."

One rabbinical teaching method is to cite a portion of Scripture and leave the remainder unspoken. The audience would hear the unspoken part in their minds and draw more deeply into what the speaker said, by completing it, if you will. Jesus here does not say His name mentioned in the Psalm; His listeners would have heard it in their minds, however, making this portion of Scripture even more powerful and compelling. He--Yeshua--is the Salvation of Whom the Psalm speaks; yet He will be rejected. Some will fall on Him and "be broken." Brokenness can be used by the Holy Spirit to bring a person to the Son. Being broken is being humbled. It is only in humility that a person can really see Who Jesus is.

Jesus gives another outcome: being ground into powder by the Rock. I think of wheat that is ground into a fine powder by a powerful stone wheel that rolls around in a groove, driven by a donkey. Either way, whether broken or ground up, a person has to allow the Rock to work on the soul, and allow the Spirit to give revelation as to Who He is.

Let's look at the other name Jacob gives in his blessing to the Almighty One: "the Shepherd."

Many times, in the Old Testament, God is called the Shepherd of Israel: "Like a shepherd He will tend His flock, In His arm He will gather the lambs And carry them in His bosom; He will gently lead the nursing ewes." (Is. 40:11) Another reference is "Save Your people and bless Your inheritance; Be their shepherd also, and carry them forever." (Ps. 28:9)

There are many, many verses where God is identified, in Jacob's words, as the Shepherd. So, when Jesus identifies Himself with the Shepherd, it is more than a metaphor. He is using one of many of God's names in the Old Testament: "I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me— just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep. I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd. The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life—only to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.” Jesus' words echo back to Jacob's blessing to his twelve sons. Jacob looks to God for salvation, and salvation takes on a personality: it is not just deliverance, but Deliverance. It is not just salvation, but a Savior.

We are going to explore in future blogs this amazing connection to Jesus' name echoing in the Hebrew word for salvation throughout the Old Testament. He is calling out and reminding us of His Father's goal: that salvation alone is found in Him.

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